As business leaders review the PEO marketplace for human resource services like payroll, employee benefits and HR administration, two options emerge: a full co-employment model and an ASO model. What are the differences? Why choose one over the other?
A co-employment PEO is a Professional Employer Organization that provides small to medium-sized businesses with HR services through a co-employment model. An ASO PEO is an Administrative Services Organization that also serves as a source for HR services but without a co-employment agreement. Both models aim to streamline the behind-the-scenes administration requirements associated with having employees.
It is important to note that co-employment does not mean the PEO delves into the day-to-day operations of a business. They are there to add efficiency, structure, and accountability to the backend of an organization.
The Power of Pooling: A co-employment PEO combines all of their clients’ employees into one group, creating one large pool to cover under a group health plan. This pooling allows the PEO to offer the bargaining power of large businesses to small and medium-sized businesses, which can lead to better coverage and lower premiums.
The ASO model is based on outsourcing services separately for each employer that contracts with them. While ASOs also alleviate their clients from the responsibility of finding and implementing a group health plan, they are not able to offer smaller employers the preferred rates and benefits available to large companies.
Full Suite of HR Services: With co-employment comes a full array of human resource services: health insurance, payroll functions, HR admin, HRIS, reporting and compliance. The PEO essentially takes on responsibility for their client’s employees like they are their own. The organization enrolls those employees in a timely manner into a group health coverage plan, provides payroll and payroll reporting, and manages COBRA and COBRA compliance as well as other human resource functions.
An ASO is based on a cafeteria plan model, where an employer can pick and choose which services they would like to outsource. This type of PEO may not be able to reap the benefits of the bargaining weight of larger organizations, as it may not have enough participants in each service line.
The co-employment PEO model includes many benefits to a small or medium-sized employer. Case in point, Worksmart Systems is an Indiana-based PEO that has been offering HR outsourcing services for 21 years. They provide a group health insurance plan. By pooling health risk-rating groups over many employees, Worksmart can offer small to medium-sized businesses competitive rates that larger businesses enjoy.